Good morning! I'm sitting here on the couch at 5:30 in the morning with nothing better to do than tell you about the last 24 hours.
Yesterday I decided to go to the big, big city and finish up the last bit of the holiday shopping. J asked to go with me. When all four kids accompany me to any store you would probably pick J out to be the one "least likely to ASK to go shopping with mom." However, when it is just the two of us, we both have a grand time.
Two years ago our December trip to the big city was extended when the freeway was closed due to weather while we were up there. The kids and I spent the night in the home of one of The Man's co-workers (who couldn't make it home himself) and went home the next day. Yesterday morning was beautiful, though, and it promised to be a good trip.
We hit Barnes and Noble first. We could have spent all day there, but Target and the mall beckoned. Then we went to Lowes to get a tub/shower surround similar to the cracked one The Man pulled out of our bathroom Saturday night. The Man bought one last week that was nicer, but then discovered that our atypical bathroom can't handle that one. We briefly considered a full bathroom remodel to make that surround fit, but we opted for just getting a different surround.
J and I did take coats with us yesterday, but they stayed in the van while we went in and out of stores. Even when the slight drizzle developed late in the afternoon (can you see where this is going?) we didn't need our coats. We finished up our trip with a few grocery stores then we finally headed home about 8:00. The trip usually takes just over an hour, but that was not to be.
As we headed south I saw a lighted sign on the freeway. Chains required 9 miles ahead.
We always carry chains...2 sets. I knew they were in the back, buried. I got off at the very next exit, pulled into a gas station and found the chains. J retrieved the wind-up flashlight from under his seat and then I called The Man. He checked the internet for me and confirmed that chains were being required over the mountain pass.
I pulled out the handy instructions that came with our chains and read them over carefully. I had attempted to put them on one other time in our driveway when we had over a foot of snow. It didn't work out well and I ended up using the chains just for traction under the wheels. I noted in the instructions that it said to try out the chains before they are actually needed. Next time. We set out again. A few miles later we came across another sign. Chain up area.
I pulled over and J got out with me to hold the flash light. We both headed back in the van to get our coats. It was getting pretty nippy, especially with the semis going by. I did notice that only a few other folks were chaining up and most were just speeding by. One hour after first calling The Man from the gas station, I called him again to let him know we were all chained up and ready to go over the mountain. I will admit that I was slightly disappointed that I didn't have my camera with me so I could show you my wheels!
We bumped along at 22 mph. Several minutes later another sign came into view. Chain inspection point--Prepare to stop. I was ready! But...no one was there! I called The Man again and he again checked the internet. In the time it took for me to carefully read the materials and chain up, the restriction had been lifted. Chains were no longer required. Hmph. Since it was still drizzling, I decided to keep the chains on anyway.
As we were approaching the top of the pass, it was obvious that I was one of the few people on the road using chains since everyone else was speeding by me. I was planning on stopping and removing the chains once I got over the pass, but right at the summit I could feel the front tires slipping. Hooray! The chains weren't for naught! At that time two other cars came up behind me and decided that my 22 mph was just right for them also. They followed for a few miles down the mountain until the roads weren't quite so slippery. I pulled over to remove the chains, but I noted the shoulder was rather icy. I got back in the van and we bumped down the mountain for a few more miles.
The snow finally disappeared so I pulled off again to remove the chains. A nice man pulled over to see if I needed help removing the chains. I figured if I could put them on then I could take them off. I was right, although I will say that putting them on was a much cleaner job than taking them off.
A few miles later I had cell phone coverage again and I called The Man to let him know we were over the pass. It had been one hour since I'd chained up. Once I made it to the city I called again to see if there were any restrictions over our local mountain pass. There weren't, but I noted that there was a lot of snow up there that wasn't there when I left in morning. We finally made it home at 10:45. I washed the road grit off my arms and hands while The Man unloaded the van and I went to bed about 11:30.
I turned off the alarm so I could sleep in this morning.
At 4:00 J came in our bedroom to let us know that he was sick. The Man got up to clean up the mess. A little while later I got up and started the laundry. The Man went back to bed, but I stayed up with J.
That sums up my last 24 hours. Now it is time to get the rest of the family up and put some quilts in the dryer. Maybe I'll get a nap sometime today. I do need to get 5 or 6 packages in the mail today also.
Notes on tire chains:
-Have chains and rubber tighteners already in the vehicle. Don't wait until you need them to buy them at premium price (if any are available).
-Read directions carefully.
-Practice putting them on before you need them (I skipped that step). Don't assume you can just pay someone to do it for you. In the hour it took me to put them on, nobody stopped to see if I needed help (I would like to think that is because I looked quite capable, but I'm afraid it was just because no one else wanted to do it).
-Read directions again.
-Pray some more.
-Drive slow (don't forget the hazard light blinkers to let the crazy people know you are driving slower than they are). The instructions said not to go over 30 mph, but anything over 22 was too bumpy for me.
-Clean them up and put them away carefully so they'll be available for the next time!
-Pack some (fingerless) gloves in the chain box. I wish I had had some gloves with me last night! I am thankful that we had our coats with us. It would have been brutal without a coat.
-Pack some paper towels or something to clean up with afterwards. Trying to drive while covered in road grit isn't fun.